This December marks the 20-year anniversary of the release of Titanic, which is easily the best movie about a sinking ship ever made. (Sorry, Poseidon.) It has everything you could possibly ask for: nudity, young Leonardo DiCaprio, dancing, disaster, some brief gunplay. Oh, and let’s not forget about the heavy dose of Céline Dion.
While this movie made a huge impression on me as a child, and has, I think, aged fairly well over the course of the past 20 years, there are still some important and nagging questions I have about the film. And by “important,” I mean things that probably only to matter to me when I’ve had a few glasses of wine:
1. What on earth happened before Rose went to fling herself off the ship?
All we see onscreen is Rose running down the ship’s deck, clearly distraught, with loose hair. Since Rose is notably proper and coiffed throughout the majority of the film, it seems extremely unlikely that she would have worn her hair down at a public function on the ship. Did she perhaps have a physical altercation with Cal? Was she just so unhappy that she ran out of her stateroom in the middle of getting undressed? Did she watch a terrible ventriloquist performance on the ship that caused her to yank her hair out? It’s a small detail, and I suppose it doesn’t really matter, but now I’m fixated on it.
2. Does Cal love Rose?
It feels like this character’s inner life should have been explored a bit more. It’s somewhat unclear as to whether Cal has genuine feelings for Rose, or if she’s simply his trophy. Sure, he definitely gives off the territorial, you-are-my-property vibe on multiple occasions — but, if his feelings were that shallow, why didn’t he tear up the naked drawing of Rose as soon as he found it? Why was he so intent on punishing Jack? (So much so that he literally chases him around with a pistol, in a totally surreal segment that I always forget about?)
On second thought, though, I’m actually fine about not empathizing with Cal’s character, so maybe it’s better that this question goes unanswered.
3. How did the men at dinner not hear Rose talking shit about them?
Remember how, at the end of dinner, the men all retire for brandy and cigars? And Rose, from clear across the table, stage-whispers to Jack, “Now they’ll retreat into a cloud of smoke and congratulate each other on being masters of the universe”?
Yeah, Rose, everybody can hear you, honey.
4. How did that car sex work, exactly?
Okay, cars had barely been invented at this point, so it seems like this whole operation couldn’t possibly have gone so seamlessly. I don’t want to get into it, but it’s cumbersome enough trying to have sex in a modern car, let alone one that was made in the early 1900s. And just look at this thing:
Seriously: how do you have sex in that car and wind up in this position?
Were Jack’s legs literally sticking out the window?? Was he half-crouching on the floor?
I’m not sure, but the plausible explanations make this scene far less romantic, particularly now that I’m imagining Jack kneeling with his pants around his ankles.
5. Was Jack and Rose’s PDA partially responsible for the iceberg collision?
I’m just saying, if those guys in the crow’s nest weren’t so distracted by all the making out that Jack and Rose were doing on deck, perhaps they’d have seen the iceberg earlier.
I mean, it’s not likely, but it is kind of cosmically funny to imagine it being entirely their fault, espeically considering Jack and Rose’s relationship is so incredibly self-absorbed.
6. What happens to Rose’s mother?
We know that Rose’s mother survives the sinking, and that Rose pointedly avoids her on the Carpathia. From that point on, we assume that Rose cuts off all communication with her mom — a move which seems particularly harsh, given the flawed-yet-human motivations behind her mother’s behavior. However, we get zero clues as to how Rose’s mother goes about making a new life for herself. Did she ultimately predict her own fate and wind up working as a seamstress?
7. Does Rose’s granddaughter hook up with Brock?
There’s a weird sexual tension between these two that is bubbling beneath the surface for pretty much the entirety of the film. What is that about? Why don’t we get any sort of payoff?
Also — boats must really be romantic, considering how many people fall in love/lust on them.
8. Why, in the name of all that is holy, does old Rose throw the necklace into the damn ocean?
Hear me now: there is no reason whatsoever for her to do this.
I’m not even talking about the stupidity of throwing a ridiculously expensive item of jewelry overboard — I’m talking about the symbolism. Didn’t Rose just spend the entire movie recounting her story to an audience of people, thereby giving the impression that she is somewhat invested in having her memories preserved? Why then would she take one of the only remaining memories from that experience and chuck it into the ocean?! Dammit, Rose, stop saying “I’ll never let go” and then immediately letting go of things!
That diamond could have been donated to a museum! Or given to Rose’s granddaughter as a nice “Thank You For Spending The Best Years Of Your Life Being My Caretaker” gift! Literally anything would have been more poetic and beneficial than throwing it into the damn ocean!
I think Jack Dawson said it best when he grabbed her face and proclaimed: “Rose, you’re so stupid!”
9. Is heaven being stuck on a ship forever?
Oof. I really hope not. I’d imagine all of these dead people would prefer to never set foot on a ship again.